How often do you get to be the boss? I asked a 5 year old this question and her reply was “Not ever!” How delighted she was when I was able to tell her that “in here, you get to be the boss” as I escorted her to my playroom.
Think about the life of a child. It’s true that they never (or rarely) get to be the boss. They are told when to get up in the morning, when and what they can eat, when to go to school, when to do their homework, what to wear, what time they have to go to bed, etc. They basically have very few choices of their own. And when things in their world fall apart (parents fight or divorce, a death occurs in either a pet or someone they know, their teacher isn’t nice to them, their house gets flooded in a bad storm, they get yelled at repeatedly by someone...) they have nowhere to go to find answers that will comfort them. That’s why the playroom is so helpful in the life of a child.
In the playroom, a child feels important. The messages we provide to children are: “I’m here; I hear you; I care; and I understand.” No matter what is going on in a child’s world, being able to be the boss for 30 minutes works wonders in their life. Play is a vitally important activity for children. Not just play itself, but their ability to choose what they want to do in their play. Being allowed to ‘be the boss’ lets them know that whatever they want to do is important. They can make a total mess if they want, they can throw things if they want, they can pretend to be a powerful warrior if they want, they can pretend to be a famous singer if they want...and the list goes on. I’ve been allowing children to ‘be the boss’ for over 21 years, yet I am still amazed at the power it has to help a child heal from whatever life has thrown at them.
When is the last time you allowed a child to ‘be the boss’? If only for a few minutes, it will enhance your relationship with that child. Even if the child makes a complete mess, it will be well worth the time and effort you put into it. Try it sometime.